Archive for the ‘Tuesday: Business’ Category
Mom’s have a lot on their plate. Most days it can feel like a circus juggling act where you are struggling to keep all of the balls in the air. I know that I am pretty lucky with my schedule at the kids belts office (I know the boss and she’s pretty lenient with me). I really admire the stay at home moms, the working moms, the single moms, the two parent household moms, basically all moms out there because they all come with their own challenges. Motherhood is one of the most amazing things I have ever done and simultaneously one of the most exhausting.
With all of that being said, one of the main focuses of my toddler belt (and subsequent adult belt) invention is to make life easier for moms!
I know what you are thinking, “Chelle, how are you making life easier for moms?”
Just sit back, kick up your feet, relax and let me tell ya…
- Save time by not constantly pulling up your child’s pants! With our belts for kids, you don’t have to worry about your little one’s pants falling down at an inappropriate moment (not that there is ever really an appropriate moment for that)!
- Save time with potty training! Our half belts promote independence for your child, with no buckles to fuss with, potty training just got easier! Little fingers don’t have the dexterity to fidget with buckles and clasps. Plus, when they “gotta go” they “gotta go” they can’t waist time trying to get out of a full belt. That’s when accident’s happen.
- Save time with diaper changes! Playing on #2, no buckles means nothing to undo every time you have to change a diaper! A traditional belt is just not practical with little ones in diapers. Who wants to have to worry about that every time they need changing?
- Save time shopping! Who doesn’t want to stay in their pre-pregnancy pants longer? One way to use our adult belts is as a maternity belt. You don’t have to do the rubber band trick anymore!
- Save time trying to find that perfect pair of pants! If you are like me, you try on 3 or 4 pairs of pants because your jeans have that annoying gap in the back of them. Then you settle on a pair that still doesn’t fit right. Well, save yourself the 30 minutes and throw a Dapper Snapper on them and the gap is gone in an instant!
I could keep going, but you get my point, Dapper Snappers are here to make mom’s life easier!
How have they made your life easier?
Sort of, but not really… Ok, so we aren’t on the cover of the magazine, but our kids belts are on the inside of the magazine!
You can see our spread in Baby Maternity Retailer here on page 28. You can also see it by simply scrolling down a little bit…
See how easy I made that for you? I’m such a giver! I’m really excited about the exposure we will gain from this magazine. You know me, I’m all about branding. I want Dapper Snappers to be a household name (aren’t you shocked that it isn’t already, me too) and this puts us another step closer to that dream. And really, what better market than baby & maternity? I mean we do make a pretty awesome baby/toddler product and… ahem… we also make a fantastic maternity belt as well!
In this article, we chose to talk about how we are making this product in the USA. That’s always been one thing that has been very important to me. I have always wanted everything that we produce to come from the USA so that we would be helping out the economy. In addition to our day to day employees, we also work with a local behavioral health service to help package our product. How cool is that?
It still amazes me when I sit back and think about how we started this in our garage. I was in charge of sourcing materials, manufacturing, shipping, distribution, etc, and by that I mean I went to the store and bought the elastic and snaps, came home sewed, capped and packaged everything in the garage, boxed it up and then delivered them to local stores. My… we’ve come a long way, baby!
As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, we have NEW patterns! That’s right, they are here! I know that you have been sitting behind your computers patiently waiting for our new kids belts patterns to be revealed, so without further ado…
Our Original Toddler belts will now also be available in the following patterns:
- Autism Awareness ($1 from every belt purchased is donated to Easter Seals)
- Caution Tape
How cool are they? We are very excited to be launching these patterns for the fall and we know your kids will love them!
Want to know what’s even cooler?? We are now doing our Big Kids Belts in patterns!
You heard me right, our Big kids belts, which are perfect for bigger kids ages 5 to 9 and are fully adjustable, are now available in patterns!
Our boys Big Kids Belts not only come in Navy, Beige and Black but now also the following:
- Caution Tape
- Gator Camo
Our girls Big Kids Belts now come in the basics, Black, Light Pink, Navy, Pink, Purple, White AND the following:
- Girl Camo
- Pink Paisley
- Purple Paisley
So, are you as excited as I am? That’s what I thought. Do you know what we should do to celebrate? Share with our friends, of course! I’ll see how many of you read this all the way to the end. Everyone who shares this blog post on Facebook and then comments below, will be entered into a drawing for a FREE $25 gift certificate to our online store. You don’t have long, only until noon on September 20th. So share and comment away! The winner will be announced on Facebook, so be sure to check often!
I’ve been thinking about this the past week and I found myself torn between the current title and “Do you want to make money or do you want to be famous?” Because really, in this mamapreneur world, you have to choose. There are so many fallacies when it comes to bringing a product to market and “Making it Big” that it’s hard to see know what’s truth. While everyone’s reality may be different, our dreams are somehow all the same. Raise your hand if you wanted to be on Oprah? Ellen? Shark Tank? What about having your product sold in the big box stores like Target or Walmart? Or even Walgreens?
Well, unless you have enormous financial backing, chances are that just ain’t gonna happen. And if you do reach that big goal? Be prepared to spend all your hard-earned moolah on keeping your brand in those stores. There is no money in selling to big box stores unless you have the finances to back it up. We don’t have that kind of money just sitting around the kids belts. We don’t have a money tree in our back yard.
But there is the misconception that we do. Spending almost 4 years now pushing the Dapper Snappers brand name to every blog and boutique that would have us has done wonders for sales. But we aren’t millionaires. We aren’t even hundredaires. Just the other day, my car (which had been steadily nose-diving in performance for months) broke down on the side of the road. Permanently. Kaput. Done. The end.
My first thought? “How is it that we have a successful business, but no extra money to repair or replace my car?” Because it takes money to stay open. There are employees to pay (they get really grumpy if you don’t), materials to keep stocked up, bills to pay, so on and so on. It seems like the bigger we get, the faster the revolving door spins…
I’m not trying to talk you out of trying, I promise you, I wouldn’t change a thing. While unexpected emergencies catch us off guard, this business still provides me with tons of flexibility to be a part of my children’s lives. Besides, I love these silly pieces of elastic with snaps.
What’s better than coffee? Free coffee of course! What’s better than free coffee? Free coffee at my favorite place, Starbucks. Occasionally on my way in to the kids belts office, I take the long way in (and by long way, I mean completely out of the way, by like 3 or 4 miles) and grab a cup o’ joe at Starbucks.
Well, the other day I got in line at the drive-thru even though I was thinking at the time “This line is really long.” The first few cars moved quickly and it was time for me to place my order for my tall non-fat toffee nut mocha latte, no whip, no foam (I’m a bit high maintenance). The barista repeated my order and ta-da, I was on my way to coffee goodness!
And then the line stopped… For reasons unknown to me, I was now trapped in the drive-thru (there’s that pesky concrete median and all). I’m a patient person, but after literally 5 minutes, I started getting antsy. If I could have left I would mainly because that whole five minutes not one car had moved. The same car was still at the window. A few more minutes went by and then finally, the car drove off! Yay, here we go!. The next car went quickly but the one after that got held up again. Seriously, what’s going on?
From the time I ordered to the time I made it to the window, I had been sitting in my car in the drive-thru for over 20 minutes (yes, I timed it). I had my arm out the window with my cash in hand when the barista opened it and said, “We are so sorry for your wait, you drink is on us.” What! Sweet! That’ totally made up for it in my book. But, wait, can I upgrade my order???
I was really impressed that did that. They certainly didn’t have to and I still would have been back. I also wasn’t complaining or asking for a free drink, but they did it nonetheless and I was impressed.
It seems that there has been a run on good customer service lately, and I like it. My assistant posted this on Facebook yesterday:
So, I had a bad experience twice at a local Chipotle Mexican Grill, so I emailed the company and within 45 minutes I had a response and the next day I had a call from the manager of said restaurant asking what she could do to fix the problem and what had happened. Needless to say I am VERY impressed with their customer service and we will definitely be back. I knew we loved that place for a reason (besides the amazing food!). Have you had any great customer service experiences lately? ~Jen
I don’t know if it’s because of the whole Golden Corral debacle or what, but I don’t care. I’m glad that good customer service is cool again.
Is it true that there is no such thing as bad publicity? Well, let’s just say that here at the kids belts office, we don’t want to risk it.
By now, you have probably gotten wind of the Golden Corral story. If you haven’t, here’s a local clip explaining what happened.
Ouch, that’s a pretty damaging story and the original video has gone viral. How does a restaurant gain back the trust of it’s customers? Obviously, there are two sides to every story, but right now, there’s not a lot coming out from Golden Corral, other than the manager was fired for improper food storage. Here’s a statement from the Golden Corral Facebook page:
I don’t think that passing the blame is the answer. I think that firing the manager is a start, but blaming the guy who blew the whistle doesn’t seem like the right move. He may not have gone about it correctly, but if this was an ongoing problem, maybe he thought it was the only way. Maybe he was just out for the fame, but if the food hadn’t been by the dumpster in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a story. Also, if it was an unscheduled inspection, how did the manager have time to get the food out to the dumpster? And why was it still in pans on the racks instead of in garbage bags?
I don’t know, no matter whose side you take, you have to admit that they have a PR nightmare on their hands. Since the video came out, I have driven by the Golden Corral in question and the parking lot has been deserted and let me tell you since the restaurant opened not even a year ago, the park lot has always been over-flowing.
Here’s who I feel bad for, the current employees, especially the servers who work for tips. No matter what the restaurant chose to do, the employees are now the ones suffering.
I think that it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds and how quickly Golden Corral bounces back.
I rarely, and I mean RARELY eat at McDonald’s anymore. It used to be sort of a staple, but I’ve made sure the family makes better choices. However, there is an occasion here and there when I am rushing from the kids belts office to get the kiddos to rush to drop them off somewhere else, where we need something quick. Gulp, McDonald’s it is. Now, this makes the kids happy because, for some reason, they love it, but I dread it.
This was the case over the weekend. We were rushing around and I dropped in really quickly to grab us lunch. I always order what you see above, the Filet-o-Fish meal (only I add tomato). Maybe it’s because I got hooked (pardon the pun) in by the Filet-o-Fish song…
Anyway, I ordered our meal and we drove away. I reached in the bag, opened the box and much to my surprise, my sandwich did not look like the one above.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that when I eat at McDonald’s. I am not eating at a 5 star restaurant, so I can deal with the “looks” of this sandwich. However, when I opened the sandwich, I was really disappointed…
Isn’t that bad business? Yes, but it doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? Because McDonald’s is huge and people will continue to eat there and sacrifice quality for speed and cost. We do it because we think that it’s a fair trade, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. We are still spending our hard eared money on a product and we should be getting they best that they have to offer (and I can’t believe that that would be their best).
As an owner of a small business, I know that I would never allow sub-par products to go out intentionally (occasionally their is a defective snap, but we promptly replace it with a new product). I wouldn’t be able to stay in business if I did, but for some reason, when you hit the level of a McDonald’s or Walmart or some other box store, you no longer have to be accountable for the product/customer service/etc. I don’t know how to change it, though.
I do know, however, that I will not be going to McDonald’s again. I knew I shouldn’t be going, but they just helped make my decision for me.
You know me, I’m always looking for the best way to spend our kids belts marketing/advertising budget (not that there is much of one, that’s how we keep our costs lower so we can still make Dapper Snappers in the USA), and yesterday I got an email. It looked like your average spammy type email, which I usually just delete, but then the subject line caught my eye, “ABC Kids vs PLUSH – The Truth“. Hmm… We have never been to Plush, but I have always wondered (and you know how I feel about the ABC Expo, as I discussed here and here). So, I opened the email and read.
ABC Kids vs PLUSH
My Take and What I See As The Future
Ok – I admit it “the truth” as stated in the subject line is only seen through my observations; however the amount of phone calls, emails and talks I have received and or participated in within the last few months prompts me to pen a letter that I hope shares my opinion on how I see the industry as a whole
So that everyone is up to speed, and forgive me to those that have been following my emails in the past, I proudly state that I am a veteran in this industry. 47 years to be exact. Proud owner of what we in the east call a mom and pop store. I grew up in the industry helped build the industry and look forward to a few more years in the industry. I stay anonymous through these email chains because I speak the truth and know the players on all sides. My friends this is a small industry – let’s not kid ourselves to that fact.
The Question at Hand
Like I stated in my prior paragraph I have received inquiry after inquiry on what I see as THE SHOW to attend for the manufacturer and for the buyer, so let’s focus on the two shows that seem to be at each other’s neck and simplify the question thus bringing about a an easier, if any, solution.
ABC Kids - Good show, simple and bland but really all I need when it comes to finding my manufacturers, there does in lie the problem. 4-5 days of sifting through mountains of booths to only see 200-300 of my actual clients is a real downer. Like I stated above, I know the players of ABC and understand there determined goal to make themselves the largest show the industry has
seen…(que echo..seen..seen…seen) but let’s be frank, the million of $$$ that the show brings in does very little to help my store or the manufacturers that purchase the booth space. Due to little loyalty within the ranks of ABC and previous committees and boards the facts always make their way to my doorstep.The industry seems to have come to grips with the fact that inflated salaries, lush “non show” excursions and an ultimately bland show is the new norm for the industry. Now don’t pick up the phone and call ABC right away to complain about me… there is a flip side to this coin. This IS the show you have to go to place your product in front of buyers. Heed what I say when I tell anyone that is planning on attending ABC Kids that they made smart decision and I look forward to seeing them there. Oh and ABC – one more thing. KY C’mon???
PLUSH - this seems to be the biggest point of contention for most people that I talk to so I spent last week on the west coast visiting the show learning all I could and seeing some of my manufacturers. I’ll give you the good with the bad and then hopefully have a solution to the ongoing question later in this email.
THE GOOD – the bland went away. As a buyer this show was more appealing to my senses than any other show I have ever been at. From the moment you walked in the doors to the networking events, you felt as if you were the most important person there. I like that every once in a while. The manufacturers were great to talk with and the mood of the show made me proud to be in the industry.
THE BAD – It was very expensive to attend the show and beyond the networking events, a hamburger cost me $30.00. I did have the luxury of staying the 3 days for the show so the cost is partly my fault however seeing the consumer aspect of the show was interesting, CROWDED and worth the extra night stay and $40.00 breakfast. I have to throw the speakers for what I assume was the educational side under the bus for a second. I would rate them as a 30 on a scale of 0- 100 mostly because of “self proclaimed industry expert” Jamie Grayson. I was able to attend both of his seminars and was bored with both. Now don’t crucify me yet. I know he has a following of about 60 women in the industry that hate their husbands and are looking for a sensitive man in their life, but seriously this young man is a perfect example of how the industry needs NOT TO BE. (This may be the bulk of my next email blast) As a side note to my side note, I also attended the panel at ABC Spring which was very similar to the panel at PLUSH and was happy with what I came away with. So maybe Jamie you send me an email email@example.com and we can discuss why you flamed out at PLUSH.The decor atmosphere and management was charming and down-home for a west coast show and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young show.
SO MY PROGNOSIS DOCTOR
If you skipped the above just to see what I think, well, you didn’t miss much, but I must ask you to be very serious in reading what I see as the solution. There DOES need to be a change in the industry. ABC shaking hands with foreign entities sends red flags all over my mind and PLUSH being high end yet high dollar also strikes fear to my inner wallet. So Larry Schur, Jina Parks (Show managers of both ABC and PLUSH) – if you are reading this head my below advice and please know that I speak for a great many.
Larry (ABC Kids) – The show is too big – you forgot what the industry is all about and instead filled the bank accounts. Please remember that we are who you fought many years for and I hope you continue to fight for. Please please please reconsider your relationships with other countries. You know this will end bad for many.
Jina Parks (PLUSH) you have the future of show/events in the industry. If ABC had an ounce of courage they would pull your show into their fold and together make the industry unshakable. Bring your pricing for all attendees to an acceptable place and you have my business going forward and many of those that read this blog/email.
To The Reader (that’s you) watch these shows very carefully – one is for you and one could very well be against you. If I had to make my choice now…it would be for PLUSH. They are what the industry needs to be healthy and they radiate that in their show, management and there perseverance.
Talk with everyone soon,
The Juvenile World Old Guy
I enjoyed reading his perspective. There isn’t enough information about worthwhile trade shows and we end up spending thousands of dollars to attend shows in which we make few contacts (simply because of lack of attendance), like ENK this spring. And I couldn’t agree more with him about ABC at KY. As I stated earlier, we went the first time it was in KY and it was just awful. We heard that last years was better, though we refused to attend. However, from what I gathered, even though the entertainment was better, orders were still down because the buyers didn’t want to go to KY and really, that’s what we are there for orders and connections, not entertainment.
All of this being said, I don’t know who this guy is but I appreciated hearing a buyers point of view. Like I said, normally I skip over emails like this, but since we haven’t attended Plush and I was told it would be a good show to attend, I felt “called” to read it. We will be at the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas this year, but next year we may look into Plush!
I hope it helps you with your trade show decisions!
Here at the kids belts factory, we have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. We have some amazing retailers who sell on Amazon and we love them to death, but there are always one or two who spoil the pot.
We are very protective of our brand and our image. “Why?” you ask? Well, partly because this business and this piece of elastic with snaps is my baby. I feel like I literally birthed it with the amount of blood, sweat and tears that has gone into it! And, partly because that’s just good business. Imagine what Disney or Coca Cola would be today if they didn’t protect their brand and the value of their product. I know we are a young company and nowhere near as big as those companies (one day… you just wait), but if we don’t protect it now, it will only get harder. That’s where Amazon is making it difficult, and not just for us.
Like I said, we love the great majority of our Amazon retailers, but lately there has been one specifically (and I won’t mention names) that has blatantly been violating our pricing policies. We have been in contact with them through Amazon and they refuse to comply. I know that’s not Amazon’s fault, but here is where they come in… Amazon sellers are completely anonymous. Amazon won’t even talk about their 3rd party sellers. That makes it difficult for wholesalers and distributors like us to track down who is actually selling our product. We aren’t the only one. Once we started having this problem, we googled the issue (cause that’s what you do when you have a problem, right, google it?) and there are huge companies having the same problem. So much so, that they even dedicate a whole page on their website listing the companies who are not authorized sellers and warning that their warranties are voided if their product was purchased from any of those retailers.
The problem is, when you sell a product for under the minimum advertised price, you cheapen the brand and make it harder for smaller stores to sell the product because they have to make a certain amount on the sale to justify keeping in inventory. Keep that in mind when you purchase any product. The cheapest price might seem like a deal, but it might also be forcing someone else to close their doors or not carry a product because they can not compete.
We have plans and ideas, big plans and ideas. We have goals, big goals! What hinders our ideas, plans and goals?? Money, of course! So, this year we have decided to take a run at the Huggies Mom Inspired Grant Program with our kids belts. Have you heard of it? Here’s how their site explains it.
“The Huggies® MomInspired™ Grant Program is awarding up to $15,000 to further the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. At Huggies® we recognize that there is a dynamic and talented community of moms who strive to make life as a parent easier and more enjoyable every day. It’s what we strive for too. That’s why we want to inspire moms from all walks of life to channel some of their best moments of ingenuity into products that help improve the lives of all moms.”
This is an amazing program for Huggies to offer. This is great advertising for smaller companies like ours. Plus, we would love to align ourselves with a big name like “Huggies”. I mean, really, doesn’t it just make sense? Dapper Snappers are perfect “fit” for toddlers with diapers. (ha ha, you like that?)
On top of that, the money would be nice. I know that we would only get a portion of the $15,000 that they are giving away, but we could put it to such good use. We could go to more trade shows to help up get in front of some of the bigger box stores. We could use it to help us revamp our packaging. So many idea, I have!
So, wish us luck, and pray that I get over my writers block so I can finish filling out the application. Why is it so hard to sing your own praises?? “What is something that you like to do? What is unique to you?” Uhhh…. I’m pretty good at killing house plants… Somehow I don’t think that’s what they are looking for, though.